3 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Searching For A Summer Internship

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Keep calm and don't be late.

Both parts of this are real good advice for internship hunters.

As I’m just wrapping up the first year of my MBA, I’m looking forward to the 4-month break of summer vacation before hitting the books again in the fall. Even more than relaxing from my studies, I’m looking forward to bringing in some income through a paid summer internship.

Having already put in a few years of professional work experience, I thought I had finding the right internship under control, but I’m a little embarrassed to admit I made some major mistakes in my search. Here are the three biggest ones, so you can avoid making them yourself!

***

1. Starting My Search Late

Having never completed an internship for my undergraduate degree in chemistry, I wasn’t aware of the recruitment cycles for internships. For instance, for business, the recruitment cycle was in the fall. Through September and October of last year, many major companies visited my campus looking to hire for May.

In an impressive display of self-sabotage, I did not attend a single networking or recruitment event last term. To think I could have had this whole ordeal figured out before winter break makes me feel more foolish than anything else. To avoid a similar fate, talk to the career office at your school to find out the right time to be on the lookout for opportunities for your major.

2. Waiting Until The Posting Deadline To Apply

Once I began my job hunt, I frequently failed to submit my résumé until the closing date listed on the job posting. Most of the time, companies wait until they receive all applications before selecting candidates for interviews; however, sometimes I received an email only a few hours after I submitted my application letting me know they had already filled the position.

It’s really upsetting to think about the number of jobs I missed out on interviewing for—not because I wasn’t qualified, but simply because I was too lazy. The lesson? Don’t put off your application. If you see a posting that interests you, apply for sooner rather than later. You’ll be glad you did.

3. Applying And Interviewing For Internships I Didn’t Want

Once summer was only weeks away, panic set in and I started applying for any and every internship posting I saw. The result? A whack of interviews at places I didn’t want to work for and jobs I didn’t want to do.

I interviewed at one company whose offices were only accessible by car, and I don’t own or have access to a vehicle. At another, my interviewers asked if I was planning to pursue my accounting designation as the position led right into their CPA-training program. I’m not. So, we spent the next 30 minutes uncomfortably going through the remainder of the interview questions.

I don’t believe in being too picky when it comes to finding a job, and it’s great to get extra practice in an interview setting. Still, casting too wide a net doesn’t do you or your potential employers any favors.

***

Once I realized my mistakes, I stopped making them. While I can’t turn back time to apply to jobs before Christmas, now I’m only applying to places I really want to work and I’m applying as soon as I see those jobs go up.

Right now, I’m heading into my final interview round for a position I’m really excited about. I’m crossing my fingers that the internship hunt is over—then, I can start looking forward to fun part of summer!

Have you landed your summer internship? What tips do you have from your search?

(Photo: sabrinafranzoni)

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